Museums Controversies Germany

Berlin’s Old Masters should stay put, feasibility plan says

Controversial proposal to move paintings from Kulturforum could be dropped and a space built for Modern art

Berlin's Old Masters should stay at the Gemäldegalerie at the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz, according to a study released today. Photo: Maximilian Meisse, © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The controversial plan to move Berlin’s collection of Old Masters to a new building on Museum Island has been rejected by the authors of a feasibility study. The collection should remain in its current location, the Gemäldegalerie at the Kulturforum, near Potsdamer Platz, and a museum should be built nearby to accommodate the city’s ever expanding collection of 20th-century art. This is the recommendation made by the study, which was presented today, 21 August, by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the body in charge of Berlin’s state museums.

The foundation’s original plan, which provoked international criticism, was to empty the Kulturforum's Gemäldegalerie of its Old Masters to make room for the city’s growing collection of Modern art, which the neighbouring Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie is too small to accommodate. The Old Masters were to move into a new building opposite the Bode Museum on Museum Island, which raised fears that the collection would spend many years in store while the museum was being built. According to the feasibility study, the estimated cost of the plan was €374m, which is “currently financially unviable” for the foundation. The cost of a new building at Kulturforum, however, comes in at a third of the cost, €130m, according to the report.

The new space will display works from the Neue Nationalgalerie, as well as from the Marx Collection, currently shown at the Hamburger Bahnhof, the Flick and Marzona Collections, and the Pietzsch Collection of Surrealist works. The recommendations are due to be considered by the foundation’s board of trustees and politicians would have to approve the budget.

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